ESL teachers are used to be faced with many challenges on a daily basis, but the students sometimes need to be eased into a challenge to avoid them being scared of the new grammar topic. Usually, the first time they encounter the past simple tense is a bit daunting, for they feel insecure with the new rules they must oblige to. On top of the grammar rules, we must add the pronunciation ingredient to a fluent learner recipe, and that is when the content may feel overwhelming. The teacher knows it is not rocket science, but only pronunciation that needs to be tackled with meaningful content, activation of schemata and some good old practice, and one way to achieve these three goals is by playing games in classroom. To fulfill the objective of teaching ESL learners how to pronounce the past simple endings, one can go through the following steps in class and have fun while learning!
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Secondly, they need to realize that there are indeed, three possible different ending sounds in past simple regular verbs (/t/,/d/,/ɪd/). It is usually much more meaningful to students realize a pattern by themselves than to simply tell them. Therefore, you should find real audio input with three verbs (that are not on the deck of cards) being pronounced in the past simple (e.g. wanted, helped, called). This is a good moment to expose them to different speakers other than you, their teacher; you can find this audio sample in the course book, on the internet or you can even ask colleagues to record. Once you play the track once or twice, if they have not realized the difference between the samples yet, you can tell them to listen to how they are pronounced. The idea is that you guide them through the realization of the differences. Use the board to build with them a chart with three columns (/t/,/d/,/ɪd/) and write the three verbs from the sample in the columns.
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Some students might be nervous about producing language for they fear they will make mistakes. What they do not realize is that teachers see these mistakes as teachable moments. In order to enjoy these moments without exposing students, teachers may use games in the classroom. Having a classroom environment that is fun, enjoyable, meaningful and interesting will get students motivated in every activity proposed by the teacher, even the scary pronunciation tasks. This essay detailed a lesson plan that has proven to be successful and, with the necessary changes, I believe it can be helpful to other teachers and ESL groups out there.